This Ible describes the design and build of miniature tribute to the 70’s StarBird toy by MB. It mimics the original Starbird’s sound effects, which is an electronic “engine” noise that rises in pitch when the craft’s nose is tilted upwards and lowers when the nose is tilted downwards. It also has a button to fire two red “main cannons”, accompanied by a classic space gun sound.

Here's a video:

The project features a self-made tilt switch and a resistive touch switch. The sketch and the circuit are kept quite simple. The intention is to use it in "starships" built by children. At this stage it is a module built by me (requires some experience in cutting printed circuit boards and soldering) and a paper StarBird silhouette coloured by my youngest daughter aged 4 to make it into a "starship".

I’m still working on a version where the circuit is to be built in a workshop for children aged 6 to 12 (where soldering is not practical with 20 kids). I hope their parents will forgive when they bring this noisy toy home. However my version is not only smaller, but also less loud than the original one.

I’m also planning on making an even smaller one, based on a laser cut StarBird silhouette and a circuit made with Bare conductive ink or paint (something to share with my oldest daughter, Ibles member Tika.

Some words on how I came to doing this project:

When I was a kid MB created the StarBird especially for me ;-)
They even went through the trouble of making a box picturing a boy that looked just like me at that age. My parents offered me the StarBird and I played a lot with it. Later on, it became what was probably one of my first hacks, when I dismantled it to use the electronics in starship builds of my own. At some time, it became lost in space…

Last year I came across a StarBird in reasonably good shape at a good price and bought it for my youngest daughter. Not surprisingly my oldest daughter (and I) played with it too.
I wanted to build toys around the sound effect module again, but considered a vintage StarBird to precious to hack. When I recently picked up Arduino “making”, reproducing the StarBird sound effects became my first project.

When Ugifer’s Morse Throwie ible showed me how simple and cheap an ATtiny based circuit can be (THANK YOU UGIFER!), I started on planning to use them in my creative workshops for children. The StarBird light and sound effect again made the first project.

If you like this Ible, please give it your vote.

English is not my native language, nor are electronics and programming my core competence, so please feel free to point out any mistakes.

Cheeseduck3 months ago

When you linked to digikey for the tilt sensor, you linked to one that has a minimum purchase of 350 units.

Here is the link for the same tilt sensor, but minimum of 1: http://www.digikey.be/product-detail/en/TM1000Q/EG4917CT-ND/2498457

masynmachien (author)  Cheeseduck3 months ago
Thanks for putting that right, I changed the link.

I saw this link today of a flying toy, and I think it describes a Star Bird.


masynmachien (author)  JackANDJude1 year ago

It clearly does!

Thanks for the link. It gives some interesting background.

mikered2 years ago
Cool - I'll have to make this

I did have the original as a kid and it was probably my favorite toy ever

 I bet my 7 year old nephew would love a tilt operated sound effect to go inside his lego...
spikec2 years ago
Nice job, I bet you kids loved it.
janw2 years ago
it reminds me of those little wind-up airline toys you get at the airport that make the turbine noises! :)
M.C. Langer3 years ago
Great project! :-)
Ugifer3 years ago
This is lovely - and I'm thrilled if any part of the inspiration for this came from my electronic fumblings. It's amazing what will spark off the imagination.

I particularly love the tilt-switch. Much more fun and instructional than using a bought one. I may well be using this project - or at least ripping off the tilt-switch - in return!

How many kits are you making? You could get 60 PCBs manufactured for these kits for $55 USD including shipping to Europe. It would make a lovely professional kit with those, although it would be for soldering, so I suppose not suitable for your workshops.

I had assumed you had entered this into "Hands on Learning" but I don't see it listed in the entries - maybe it's not yet been formally accepted yet. When it is then you can count on one vote at least!
masynmachien (author)  Ugifer3 years ago

For now, it's in the LED Contest...
ynze3 years ago
masynmachien (author)  ynze3 years ago

If have kits left from the the workshop I'm preparing for October 13th, I will bring them to the Maker Faire 050 in Groningen the next Saturday. :-)